Men, Relationships, and the Internet

Men, Relationships, and the Internet

An examination of the modern heterosexual male, as influenced by the Internet, and his possible entry into territory traditionally thought of as exclusively feminine.

Men are evolving into a more understanding, sympathetic, and expressive gender.

Ludicrous you say? In the immortal words of Gerard Depardieu, “I’m not afraid to show my feminine side – it’s part of what makes me a man.”

Right on, Gerry.

Frankly, I’m ready for a change. It’s about time we shift men’s attitudes about power, intimacy, sex, and relationships.

Besides, I’m getting rather bored with sneaking into the bathroom with my wife’s mascara to thicken up that thin patch in my beard. It occurs to me that if a Scottish man can wear a dress and call it a kilt, then I can put on mascara and call it a beard thicker-upper.

Guilt-free mascara for men. There’s a worthy goal.

The evolution of men has been in the making for a long time. Indeed, the epoch movements of the 20th century – women’s right to vote, women entering the workforce during World War II, the sexual liberation movement of the 1960’s – have done just as much to liberate men as they have done to liberate women.

As the political, economic, cultural, and familial dividing lines between the sexes are challenged it is inevitable that straight men should adopt behaviors and attitudes traditionally thought of as feminine.

This is not to say that men should reject their masculinity. On the contrary, men should wholeheartedly embrace their masculinity. But the evolution of men rests in our ability to challenge preconceived notions of masculinity.

There is nothing wrong with being aggressive, powerful, or bold. Applying these characteristics to uplift men and women alike is the defining catalyst for change. To be aggressive in humanly pursuits, powerfully outspoken against injustice, boldly honest, passionate, and sensual – that is what it means to be a man.

How do we perceive the competency of men in forming and maintaining relationships? Do men embody the expressive qualities which solidify a lasting and satisfying relationship? Do men share openly, listen for the sake of listening, express their needs compassionately, or show their emotions unabashedly? And how are men perceived as compared to women in the depth of their relationships?

Hmmm.

Take, for example, the prevailing and underlying theme of sites designed by women and for women. Look at the marketing approach used to capture the dollars spent by women. The relationship theme is a powerful hook.

Does it work? You only have to look at the success of sites such as About.com, Women.com, or iVillage to see that it works. These sites are hugely successful with women because they provide a personalized and human experience. The expressive qualities of a relationship are hallmarks of these sites.

We need more sites that target men as emotional creatures. Certainly, the many different faces and roles men play should not be minimized. But as I come upon site after site announcing a woman-to-woman theme, I am struck by the realization that the man-to-man online landscape is still quite barren in comparison.

But there is hope, for I would argue that the use of relationship marketing can have a transforming effect on men. I don’t pretend to think that relationship-centered sites can change men’s attitudes overnight – that goes without saying.

The only thing that could do that would be menstruation. Consider this scenario…

Rocky – big, strong man – wakes up in the morning a tad bit moody. He goes to work only to discover that his cycle starts heavy right in the middle of that important meeting. He chides himself for wearing those tan slacks.

“Today of all days,” he whispers. He bolts out of the meeting, realizing that he didn’t pack his briefcase for this emergency.

Thank heavens, there’s Brock. He’s always prepared.

“Hey Brock, I’ve got this important meeting and I just started and… can ya help me out?”

“Sure,” says Brock. “I was just going to the men’s room myself. Come on, we’ll go together.”

Pretty weird, huh? It gets even weirder when Rocky comes home and spends 30 minutes telling his wife all about his day.

Heterosexual men do need satisfying, emotionally meaningful relationships, and they really do value their repressed feminine side, they just need a little help getting it out.

As for myself, I’m quite happy to play along. Perhaps I’ll even get my own mascara. But I do admit to some macho baggage, so for now we’ll call it a beard thicker-upper.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brett Krkosska provides how-to advice on small business and home-based work issues. He is the founder of HomeBizTools and the publisher of Straight Talk, a syndicated column that offers a unique perspective on today’s business issues.



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